Dreamers at Cal State Northridge can rest easy, as their month-long pursuit for the campus to offer an undocumented student resource center was approved by the administration on March 4.
While similar resource centers catering to the undocumented population on college campuses exist in other institutions such as University of California Berkeley and UCLA, none had been opened in any of the 23 CSU campuses until now.
The members of Dreams To Be Heard (DTBH), a pro-Dreamer advocacy group on campus, had attended countless meetings with the office of academic affairs since last summer, struggling to get an OK from the administration.
“We dealt with meeting after meeting, discussing different strategies and proposals for the center,” said Jose Rosas, 25, co-chair of DTBH and Chicana/o Studies major, who will be graduating in May.
After months of requesting the approval, the youth advocacy group garnered acceptance from Harold Hellenbrand, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, last Tuesday for the center to be underway.
“We were just happy. There’s no better word to describe how we felt in the moment,” Rosas said. However, Rosas admits he was doubtful at times.
“I was kind of shocked,” Rosas said. “We expected some support, but we had hit so many obstacles. We really didn’t know what to expect.”
One of the biggest obstacles they faced was finding a space, but according to Rosas, an office space will be made available before the end of the current spring semester, where he said will probably be situated in Santa Susana Hall.
The next step is to make it all happen, as several meetings must take place to get the center going, as well as garnering the funding for such a program.
The resource center will begin by opening an office prior to the end of this semester, yet there are plans for opening a center that caters specifically to the well-being of students who are undocumented.
While the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) on campus offers information regarding the California Dream Act, the California Assembly Bill (AB) 540, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the undocumented youth insist that this isn’t enough.
“We have this opportunity to make this beneficial for students and we want to make this as good as possible,” said Rosas.
The students aren’t alone. The group, and the cause, has been supported by several different faculty from the Chicana/o Studies, journalism, Asian-American studies, Central American studies departments, and even staff from the EOP.
Although DTBH is taking great part in the planning of the center, Rosas said that this shouldn’t be the case. “We’re not supposed to be doing this. We’re students. The administration needs to take care of us.
The university caters to a body of students that represents a vast abundance of ethnicities and cultures. As of 2013, over 70 percent of students identified with a race other than white, a CSU demographic study of 2013 reports.
According to a report from the Immigration Policy Center, there are over 400,000 individuals that qualify as Dreamers in California and over 1,000,000 throughout the United States. California is home to the largest population of undocumented youth.
“Being undocumented, you are invisible throughout your life… hopefully we can bring support and help each other out,” Rosas said.
Members of DTBH estimate that close to 500 students at CSUN were denied when applying for the California Dream Act, as only 452 of the 931 applicants were awarded the scholarship.
Because of the lack of resources, Rosas said that this is the main reason why there are no accurate numbers on those who are undocumented. However, his main concerns
“We want to provide that “AB 540 Safe Zone,” because we do understand that undocumented students go through stresses and emotions… but, we’re not asking anyone to ‘come out,’” Rosas said.